Royals Pitching Brilliant; Shutout Leafs in Home Opener

by Ryan Eakin

GUELPH - A perfect home opener.

The Guelph Royals shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 in their home opener on Saturday to begin their 2024 campaign with a 1-0 record.

With the loss, the Maple Leafs drop to 0-3.

Guelph starter Jacob Kush took a no-decision in his Royals debut after throwing four shutout innings.

The hard-throwing right-hander allowed no hits, while walking five batters and striking out a whopping eight.

Royals reliever Rhys Montgomery picked up the win against his former team in his Royals debut, throwing two shutout innings in relief of Kush.

Guelph reliever Brandon Deans recorded the six-out save, striking out five batters in two innings pitched.

Guelph first basemen Josh Garton led the way at the plate, going two-for-four with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Toronto starter Wilgenis Alvarado took the loss after allowing one earned run on six hits and two walks in four and two-thirds innings pitched.

The 2023 IBL Pitcher of the Year struck out three Guelph batters.

TORONTO - 0-2-1

GUELPH - 4-8-0

BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: Up 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Garton stole third base and reached home on a throwing error by Maple Leafs catcher Justice Magee. 

A multi-run lead with the way the Royals pitching staff was pitching, it felt as though the Royals were in control of the game the rest of the way.

NICEST PLAY OF THE GAME: In the top of the fifth inning, Maple Leafs first basemen Jordan Castaldo had what looked to be a sure base hit, only for Royals second basemen Blake Simpson to gun Castaldo out at first with a great throw.


5. Eight hits for the Royals on Saturday, with five coming from their junior players. Simpson and Marc Nellis had two each, with Ashton Patterson having one out of the nine-hole.

15. The Royals struck out 15 batters in Saturday's game, between Kush (8), Montgomery (1), Darren Shred (1), and Deans (5). 


Royals manager Dino Roumel on the crowd: "I love our fans. This is home for me. I knew we were going to get a great turnout with the weather being so great, but I was happy with the performance. This was our first real full game."

Roumel on his team's clean performance: "A well-played game by us. There is still a lot of room for improvement as I thought we could have been way more aggressive, but I did not want to insert myself much as I wanted everyone to get their feet wet in these first couple of games."

Roumel on the pitching staff: "I have been saying this for a month now, but our pitching staff is going to be really good. As short-manned as the Leafs were, they still had some really good offensive players. Jacob was lights out early, despite having no spring training. He knows he needs to find the strike zone a little bit more. Same thing with Shred. I know what Brandon can do, but wow, Rhys Montgomery. What an addition he is going to be to this team. He was brilliant."

Garton on being aggressive on the bases: "I can't be afraid. You have to take the opportunities when they are given. You have to know the game of baseball and take advantage."

Garton on his home run: "Being that guy that's supposed to produce and do those types of things, it was nice to crack that gooseegg and get on the board right away."


The Royals wrap up their weekend in Kitchener on Sunday against the Panthers.

The first pitch from Jack Couch Park is scheduled for 2 pm.